Creative industries must work harder to increase diversity – study

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New data from Brixton Finishing School (BFS) reveals that almost three quarters (73%) of young people think more should be done to attract more diverse groups to the creative and advertising industries. 

Partnering with MailMetroMedia for the third year in a row to carry out their Annual Future Talent: Unwrapped survey, formerly known as Barriers to Entry, BFS continues to break down the lived experience of entry-level talent within their first few years of working in the advertising, marketing and media industries.

Barriers to entry 

The study of more that 120 entry-level talents from the BFS ecosystem found some key barriers to entry that have been highlighted by respondents have risen since in 2019.

These include educational qualifications, rising from 11% to 25%, and not being able to afford to study, rising from 11% to 15%.

Some 50% of respondents also feel that knowing the right people remains a barrier, and 41% flagged that getting the right experience is still a hurdle they face.

Workplace experience

The study also explored the workplace experiences of the talents, and revealed some alarming findings.

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Diversity: BFS study reveals need for creative sector to be more inclusive.

For example, 1 in 4 (24%) had witnessed inappropriate behaviour from colleagues, with 36% noting this was race-related; while 1 in 3 (34%) have also seen others treated differently at work because of how they look/who they are, whilst 1 in 5 (21%) say they themselves have been treated differently for this.

Taking action 

But despite these early experiences, 73% of those surveyed would like to make a long-term career in the industry and 69% believe they can thrive in the industry.

However, to ensure businesses retain talent, and resolve the belief of more than a third of respondents that the creative / media / advertising industries aren’t serious about tackling inclusion and diversity, action should be taken.

The survey found that businesses can become more attractive by ensuring that they provide a clear path of progression (55%), competitive salaries (54%), strong training programmes (51%) and good corporate culture (50%).

Ally Owen, Founder, Brixton Finishing School, said: “We’ve conducted this research for the last three years, and it’s clear that there is still a long road ahead of us.

“Adland knows that it has a diversity issue, and they can no longer get away with tick-box PR stunts. Young people need a real sense of belonging and to work for employers that aren’t just taking a performative approach to DE&I.

“Employers need to instead work toward fostering inclusive cultures in order for employees to reflect positive experiences in their feedback.

Freena Tailor, Insight Executive & BFS alumni, said: “Conducting this research was a full-circle moment for me, as I have been in the position of filling out the same survey as a Brixton Finishing School grad entering the industry!

“Although it was an honour to be involved in such an important project, the findings highlight key challenges our industry can work on to ensure we are retaining, recognising and creating more opportunities for young talent.”

Ryan Uhl, Chief Brand Strategy Officer, Mail Metro Media & BFS Changemaker, said: “We are so excited to be involved in Brixton Finishing School’s Future Talent Unwrapped.

“For over three years now, we have been the insight partner scripting and writing this important survey to help unlock these incredibly revealing stats.

“Having data like this from our partnership really helps us to see how new talent is treated in our industry and how together, we can make it better”

This year’s survey also launches with advertising support from The Atlantic. The creative concept has been created by the team at Studio Chapel.